Sunday shows: McDonnell, Flint, Blair, Long-Bailey on Brexit and antisemitism

Ridge on Sunday

John McDonnell, Shadow Chancellor, talked about Labour’s Brexit policy and antisemitism in the party.

Brexit…

  • On Labour backing another EU referendum: “We saw only two weeks ago the EU representatives were keen to negotiate with us… therefore we’ll still be pushing for [Labour’s deal] but we respect the view that if we can’t get that, we will have to break the log jam by going back to the people. It’s not what we want but it’s what we’ve been forced into.”
  • On whether the move will harm Labour electorally: “I think electoral calculation goes out the window now, we’ve got to look for the long-term interests of our country and our people.”
  • On whipping MPs for another referendum: “I’m sure I think on this we would see a whip but also you have got to respect people’s views and their constituency interest as well.”
  • On frontbench support: “… you’d expect the frontbench to support it but as I say, you know, we’ve got to respect people’s views on this.”
  • On attending the next People’s Vote march: “Well I’ll think about it, certainly!  I’m not one to miss a good march but I also have to say as well that I don’t want to do anything or say anything that disrespects the people who strongly, in my own constituency and elsewhere, supported Leave.”

Antisemitism…

  • Does the Labour Party have a problem with antisemitism? “Well we clearly do, yes, we clearly do. Look, these allegations that the Labour Party is institutionally antisemitic I reject completely but clearly we do… It’s 0.1% of our membership seem to have been involved in some form of antisemitism. It’s a tiny number but it’s still a problem.”
  • Does Jeremy Corbyn need to do more? “We’re all doing a lot more.”
  • On Momentum’s latest video on antisemitism on the left: “I was attacked for retweeting that video but actually I think it was spot on.”

Labour splits…

  • On whether Tom Watson’s policy group for social democratic MPs is a ‘party within a party’: “No, no. We have different groups within the Labour Party, we have the Socialist Campaign, which I used to chair, we have the Tribune Group, Progress and so Tom is bringing other people together.  He has a perfect right to do that.”
  • I welcome what Tom is doing, I welcome the discussions that are taking place across all those different groups.”

Caroline Flint, MP for Don Valley, who would consider voting for Theresa May’s deal:

  • Called for a “free vote on an improved deal so those MPs who want a second referendum can vote for that but those of us who want to keep our promises to our electorate can also keep faith with those people”.
  • On another EU public vote:  “I think there are something like 60 or 70 Labour MPs who feel as strongly as I do against the second referendum”.
  • On how many Labour MPs could vote for a deal: “I think if there was a free vote, a number, 10s, 20s, 30s, would vote for an improved offer”.
  • On MPs quitting the party: “No, I won’t be tempted to do the same but let me say this, when people like Luciana Berger, Joan Ryan – a friend of mine and still a friend of mine, when Ian Austin left the Labour Party and actually Mike Gapes as well who I have known for many, many, many years – that was a week of sorrow”.

The Andrew Marr Show

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair:

  • He didn’t know about The Independent Group members leaving before they quit, but: “I’m in touch with them… I’ve got a great deal of sympathy with what they’re doing and what they’re saying.”
  • On whether he ‘backs’ the move: “I’m staying in the Labour Party… But do I sympathise with what they’ve done? Yes, I do. I think they’re courageous in having done it.”
  • On why he’s staying: “In the end it’s a question of, is it possible to bring the Labour Party back? And I think… I hope it is. I’m not sure it is.”

Labour frontbencher Rebecca Long-Bailey, who emphasised both continuing to push for Labour’s Brexit plan and a general election:

  • On Brexit: “We’re consistently trying to push Labour’s deal… and we won’t stop doing that… We have to look at options such as putting her deal and a number of other options to the people.”
  • On whether Labour respects the 2016 result: “We’re not looking to overturn the result of the referendum. Let’s be clear: what we’ve said is that to avoid a damaging or a no deal Brexit, we think that there should be an option on the table to put a deal and a number of other options to the people.”
  • Asked whether ‘Remain’ would be on the ballot paper: “That may well be one of the options.”

Pienaar’s Politics

Lord Charlie Falconer, who has been appointed by Labour to conduct a review into how antisemitism cases are handled:

  • On taking up the new role: “If [Chris Williamson] hadn’t been suspended, I think it would have been impossible, so probably I wouldn’t, but he was suspended and that was a signal.”
  • On Labour resignations: “There’s a lot of anxiety in the Lords over the leadership of the Labour Party, and there’s a lot of people, I expect, toying with whether they’re staying or not.”

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